Weekly Bulletin
December 6, 1999
Vol. 89, No. 11
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Page one news and features
Physics for all mind-sets
Campaign reaches goal; important needs remain
Miss New Jersey

Four professors join tenured faculty
Trustees appoint 14 assistant professors
Honored: William Lockwood, McCarter Theatre's special programming director
Color of Success: Third World Center welcomed Afeni Shakur
Obituaries of retired employees

Nassau Notes
Holiday volunteers opportunities


Miss New Jersey

"While I didn't think of myself as the pageant type, I discovered the positive qualities pageants offer"


Receiving the Miss New Jersey crown


By Ken Howard

Most students at Princeton do not have their own business managers. Most also do not appear in front of 20 million people in a bathing suit and an evening gown.

But as Miss New Jersey, Victoria Paige '01 has done both those things.

The appearance in front of 20 million people was part of the Miss America pageant held this past Labor Day. And the contest, in which she was a top 10 finalist, was only part of Paige's duties as Miss New Jersey, a title she earned last June.

In addition to wearing her crown, Paige is also an economics major who fits in studying, attending classes and socializing amidst a hectic schedule of speeches, personal appearances and press interviews.

"Every free minute I have I'm doing something," she says. "It never stops. When June 17th comes around, when I'm finished being Miss New Jersey, I'll take a deep breath."

On the road

Until then, Paige is often on the road, traveling to benefits, schools, PTA meetings and corporations, where she speaks about child advocacy programs like Court Appointed Special Advocates, which trains volunteers to act as court advocates for victims of child abuse.

"I travel about five days a week, every week," she says, "speaking to children about child abuse, about my work with different child advocacy centers, and about my own experience and how everyone has problems in life to overcome."

Child advocacy was the platform Paige chose for her year as Miss New Jersey. This concern, she says, stems in part from her own childhood, when she experienced the frustration of powerlessness during her parents' divorce.

Paige also points out to children that even though she has found success as Miss New Jersey and an Ivy League student, growing up in Sparta, NJ, was not a storybook experience for her.

"Kids ask about my life then, and I tell them I was not in the popular groups in grammar and middle school. They're intrigued and may get a glimmer of hope for their own situations."

In her Princeton dorm
(Photo by Denise Applewhite)



It wasn't until Paige was 17, when a close family friend nominated her for a local competition, that she even thought about the pageant circuit. "I didn't want to do it," she recalls, "but I thought it would be rude to say no."

She won her first pageant, earning the title of Miss Sparta 1996.

"While I didn't think I was the pageant type (and I still don't), I dis-covered the positive qualities pageants offer and changed my opinion of the 'typical pageant girl.'"

Paige competed in pageants all over New Jersey and was chosen runner-up in 13 contests.

For college, she chose Princeton both because of its academic reputation, Paige says, and because of its proximity to home. This allowed her to continue codirecting middle school musicals in the Sparta public school system put on by her mother, a teacher of vocal music.

As a freshman she took a break from the pageant circuit so as to get acclimated to college, she says.

She began competing again sopho-more year, but she was discreet about her involvement in the pageant circuit. To college friends, she explained her frequent absences from campus as pursuing voice lessons.

It was not until she won the Miss New Jersey title in the spring of 1999, at the end of her sophomore year, that she told friends about the contests.

"I wanted them to know me before associating me with pageants," Paige explains. "A lot of people have a view of a pageant girl that is not a positive image. They see it as oldfashioned. They don't think about what it offers, including scholarship money and the platform it gives you to speak out about important issues."

At first her fellow students reacted with astonishment. "'You do what?' they said. But once I explained everything that goes into preparing for this kind of competition, they were very supportive."

When Paige went to Atlantic City for the Miss America contest, 60 Princetonians turned up to cheer her on; groups of others tuned in to the televised competition across campus.

Rowing, singing, Cottage

While Paige was frequently off campus leading up to the Miss America contest (and is away even more now), she has kept involved in campus activities. This included rowing on varsity crew until a back injury forced her into retirement. She has con- tinued nurturing her love of singing, appearing as the lead in A Chorus Line and singing in Music 214 Opera Company's "Eleven Scenes from Operas by Mozart, Beethoven and Richard Strauss."

She is also a member of Cottage Club, where she has worn the gown she was crowned Miss New Jersey in (a formfitting black evening gown studded with rhinestones) to formals.

This year, though, she's been so busy that her cream and beige strapless Miss America gown has stayed at home. Paige feels that the benefits of being Miss New Jersey are many, but she also recognizes some downsides.

"I'm away from campus a lot," she says. "In some respects, it's sad because I'm missing a lot of junior year. But Miss New Jersey is my job for a year, and I can make a difference."

And while she did begin her junior year appearing on television, she doesn't believe she is so different from her peers.

"Being Miss New Jersey doesn't separate me," she says. "At Princeton everyone has their area where they're special. Mine happens to take me away from campus, while others thrive on campus." She does add, however: "I probably won't want to leave campus much at all next year!"